the black lizard by edogawa ranpo

ranpo strikes again with a really solid, witty, entertaining detective novel. the rivalry between the two main characters is so fun, and the way the story twists and turns is both unexpected and delightful. as is expected of ranpo, there's also some fascinating morbidity.

it's lonely at the centre of the earth by zoe thorogood

another graphic novel that made us cry and affected us deeply. the author's inner world is portrayed with such honesty, and though this book only scratches the surface of what it means to be a person grappling with depression and suicidality, we find our own journeys reflected in it.

homunculus (omnibus) vol. 5-6 by hideo yamamoto

our protagonist is playing 5-dimensional chess with the universe and the deuteragonist. and he's losing. we really don't know what to say about this series other than it being an extremely wild ride and some of the best psychological horror we've laid eyes on.

homunculus (omnibus) vol. 3-4 by hideo yamamoto

as gwen stefani once said, "this shit is bananas". the protagonist's world absolutely dissolves in these volumes, and so does his character. don't read this if rape triggers you.

solanin by inio asano

we had to read this extremely slowly because it was too touching and too true. the experience of being a twenty-something struggling to find a meaning for life in a capitalist world hits way too deeply, and this isn't to mention the life-transforming tragedy at the centre of solanin. easily a favourite manga.

goodbye, eri by tatsuki fujimoto

an excellent manga centred around loss and the preservation of memory. the story isn't all tragic, there are moments of humour - and that makes it so much more real and moving. goodbye, eri also has a delightful twist to it. we cried in a cafe while finishing it.

homunculus (omnibus) vol. 1-2 by hideo yamamoto

this was actually so insane. the art is absolutely out of this world and the characters are so interesting and the plot is so strange and twisted... there are so many secrets left to uncover in this epic exploration of how trauma changes the self. just an incredible manga.

junji ito's cat diary: yon and mu by junji ito

junji ito using his signature horror art style to portray such a cute and seemingly mundane subject makes for an extremely funny and entertaining read. it's also genuinely endearing, and the collector's edition (which is the one we read) has a lot of rewarding extras!

my lesbian experience with loneliness by nagata kabi

this manga is like being reached right into, and then having your hands gently guided to touch the author's soul like it's a little animal. it's an honest cry out for connection and a must-read for anyone who's ever felt alienated from themself and/or society.

she and her cat by makoto shinkai (story) and tsubasa yamaguchi (art)

this story is so sweet and precious and delicate. the love is tangible in every line, and it's a pretty relatable glimpse into young adulthood. we don't have any pets, but this manga makes us yearn for the affection of an animal friend.

monotone blue by nagabe

we got this because there's a gay lizard in it. the art, characters, and story are cute! there's a bit of bl-typical nonsense, but we think it's perfectly tolerable. most of it is pretty lighthearted, but the lizard's backstory is darker than you'd expect. overall, we liked it.

noise by tsutomu nihei

this is a prequel to blame by nihei, but it stands alone just fine. the plot has a lot to promise but isn't explored in much depth (because it is a prequel) but you're not reading this for the plot, you're reading this for the incredible art of architecture and action.

lizard by banana yoshimoto

yoshimoto writes with such goodness and kindness, inspiring hope and transformation and healing in her readers. her work is sweet and pure and true and it makes our eyes water from just how comforting it is. our favourite short story from this collection is blood and water.

idol, burning by rin usami

the tenderness with which usami portrays the depths of the protagonist's obsession with her oshi inspires a lot of compassion and sympathy. when details about the protagonist's life click into place, you start to feel a true connection, bearing the weight of her struggle to keep going.

mimi's tales of terror by junji ito

a fantastic collection of stories. some are funny in a bizarre way and some are downright haunting. our favourites were just the two of us and scarlet circle, as well as the bonus story monster prop. generally, we like the scary stuff more than the silly stuff: this is great for fans of both.

venom by saneh sangsuk

this book has such an earnest and kind but unwavering opinion of what is good and righteous, as expressed through the child protagonist and his beliefs. it also has very beautiful descriptive language. we read it in one sitting, which is rare for us.

river's edge by kyoko okazaki

we finished reading this manga and had literal chills that did not go away for an hour. river's edge is profound and shocking and heavy but so very raw and real. you come away feeling like you know or have been the protagonists. deep breaths are required.

weasels in the attic by hiroko oyamada

this is a short read, and it's very moving because it touches on its main themes (being a man, being a parent or trying to, being alive under the pressure of societal expectations) with absurd metaphors and candid conversations that really just stick.

beast in the shadows by edogawa ranpo

we spent a wonderful time in the botanical gardens reading this delightful mystery novel. ranpo really doesn't disappoint, and the twist is excellent. it's also great fun to get in the head of the protagonist and feel his anxieties.

sensor by junji ito

okay, the art is absolutely gorgeous. we absolutely adore junji ito's work in general. the plot is a bit weird and confusing, but that's not a bad thing - it's mysterious and adds to the horror. we will say that the religious cult thing is cheesy.

kitchen by banana yoshimoto

holy shit. these two stories are written so honestly and emotionally and profoundly and with such kindness to the world and the reader, and it makes you want to cry and choose life over death. just read this book, please!

the memory police by yoko ogawa

this book is so utterly sad. not in a devastating way that makes you sob, more like... decay in real time. it is so moving and it doesn't even hurt because of the love that the protagonist shares with her friends as her memories disappear. but that's extra painful!

black paradox by junji ito

one of ito's best works in our opinion. talking about the art of a junji ito manga is cheap, but it really is excellent. what sets this one apart is the interweaving plotlines and the depth with which they discuss death and suicide.

dissolving classroom by junji ito

quite a silly one from mr. ito. we didn't like it as much, because serious stuff tends to leave a bigger impression. it's alright, but the main horror points of melting faces and the creepy little sister is kind of overdone...

fluids by may leitz

okay, read this book. before you read this book, be aware that every trigger warning under the sun (except for child abuse, surprisingly) applies. fluids is an extreme toxic lesbian horror story and it's very graphic and also very fucked up (in a fun way and not in a fun way).

gyo by junji ito

we did not know what we were in for with the funny fish book. it gets so messed up so fast and it's absolutely delightful and grotesque and it makes you wonder how the fuck junji ito thinks of this shit. gyo is a legendary work for a reason!

remina by junji ito

the story and the art take you for a journey out of this world, and it's exhilirating to turn through those pages as you try to keep up with the characters. another ito banger, very cool. the character relationships are kind of more interesting than the horror here.

tomie by junji ito

wow, okay - tomie has totally bewitched us. this one is really interesting because of how each chapter reveals a little more about who and what she is, but you're ultimately left to decide for yourself. the concepts explored hit just as hard as the wildly good art.

freshwater by akwaeke emezi

freshwater is probably the most beautifully written prose that we have ever encountered. every sentence is dripping with blood and honey and it is so very rich and absolutely gorgeous. it's also a good portrayal of multiplicity, in our opinion, at least.

cursed bunny by bora chung

this is a collection of short stories, and the best one is definitely snare. the stories vary in theme and length and quality, and the language used throughout is quite simple and plain, but we think this is a deliberate choice to distill the essence of the themes.

convenience store woman by sayaka murata

sayaka murata is an absolute genius and writes about strange situations that are much closer to a reader's heart than they think. people often say murata's work is quirky, but we think heartbreaking and enlightening and healing are more suitable words. this is one such book.

earthlings by sayaka murata

if you have any kind of childhood trauma, you will be dead on the floor by the second chapter of this book. that's not a bad thing - it's just the sort of book that reaches into your heart and digs its nails into the valves and makes your blood run cold.

life ceremony by sayaka murata

a wonderful collection of short stories, with the overarching theme of women who don't or can't conform to their societies. some stories are funny, some inspire tears, and some make you feel so dreadfully and beautifully seen. oh my god, you will say. oh my god, murata really fucking gets it!

hummingbird salamander by jeff vandermeer

we think this is the book that made us believe that being into reading was possible again. we devoured it in a day, and it was just so gripping. following the protagonist through her unravelling of a great mystery is an awesome experience!

a black history of southampton by don john

we got our bachelors in southampton, so this was interesting to us, but unless you have an interest in or connections to southampton, it might not be to you. still, it's informative and important. it's necessary to know the histories of places you live in!

the picture of dorian gray by oscar wilde

what an iconic read honestly. this book is so fun and there's a reason it's a classic! all the characters have such energy and the premise of a portrait that takes on one's sins is genuinely pretty cool. dorian gray is one of the twinks of literature of all time.

so you want to talk about race by ijeoma oluo

a very good book for research about anti-racism. we recommend reading it if you're interested in social justice at all, especially if you're white. it discusses a lot of important things white people tend to overlook, and suggests ways to better yourself.

why i'm no longer talking to white people about race by reni eddo-lodge

another good book for anti-racism research, and is recommended reading for any white person. this one has information about uk black history but is a bit less robust in what it covers than so you want to talk about race, so we recommend both.

fight club by chuck palahniuk

well, we don't think this is "good" multiplicity representation. but it's a very fun, iconic book that we read in a day and were utterly captivated by. palahniuk's prose is so gritty and textured and sick and twisted, and it hits the spot.

uzumaki by junji ito

okay, we read this one before we left our parents' home for the last time, but it is an absolutely treasured manga of ours. when we first had acid, our old host went outside, saw a plant, and said "wow! junji ito was right!". and that should hopefully let you know what you're in for.